Justice is dead

A lament for the systematic loss of Justice, and for those affected by it.

Our right to justice is not explicitly stated in any founding document of either the Hawaiian or the United States government, but it can be argued that one of the founding ideas of government is to correct wrongs in the name of its citizens. But when government decides that its agents are beyond reproach, can we turn to them for justice?

Justice seems to be in short supply as of late, not just in our Hawaiʻi nei, but throughout the world.

In the Middle East, a seemingly eternal conflict has once again flared up and brought increased bloodshed to the region. The rest of the world watches from the sidelines, picking sides but failing to do anything to stop the chaos. Israeli troops march through Palestinian settlements kicking in the doors of suspected terrorists and, in the process, terrorizing Palestinian civilians.

Across America, reports of police violence continue to make media headlines. In New York, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed African American man, was placed in a choke-hold and died after selling illegal cigarettes. In Ferguson, Missouri, police and citizens continue to clash during riots sparked after Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, was shot multiple times during a struggle with police. Molotov cocktails are exchanged with tear gas, stun-grenades and rubber bullets, drawing attention to surplus Pentagon armaments that have found their way into increasingly militarized police forces around the country.

And who can forget the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, gunned down by neighborhood watch organizer George Zimmerman because he was wearing a hoodie in the rain? Or the subsequent trial in which Zimmerman was acquitted of murder through the use of Florida’s “stand your ground” law?

Justice is equally elusive in our islands. A pesticide company sprays chemicals next to a school on the North Shore because their lawyers said it was OK. Somewhere in downtown Honolulu, a houseless person’s meager property is stolen by a police officer and the only crime he committed was not being able to afford the price of a roof in paradise. And just today we learned the verdict in the murder trial of infamous State Department agent Christopher Deedy: not guilty.

We can learn one thing from these trends: those in power see themselves as beyond the reaches of justice. In our country, those who assume the role of upholding justice—be they uniformed police or vigilante neighborhood watchmen—have been given free reign to administer their own brand of justice instead. Our institutions have failed us. They have failed in their oversight of the individuals that ostensibly protect us.

Revolution is needed.

But it will not come.

They have tamed us.

As public outrage grows, it is channeled into social media and message boards. It will dissipate almost as fast as it is released. Those who care enough to truly act will find themselves a minority. And when they do act, that group will be labeled “radical” by mainstream media outlets and ignored by mainstream America. The majority will wake, go to work, return home, watch the news and return to bed, peacefully.

Justice lies in an open grave. Her once soft face is soiled with tears that have fallen from a blindfold that could not protect her from the pepper-spray.

My own tears fall to the keyboard as I write this epithet. I cannot help but think of the students I must face on Monday and how they will not understand why I am angry. It was just another day for them.

Justice is dead, but it will not rest in peace.